Mack Brown vs. Bob Stoops: Whose Recruiting Style Is Most Effective?

Andrew Kulha@@AKonSportsSenior Analyst IIIMay 29, 2013

Mack Brown and Bob Stoops are tied because of the Red River Rivalry that runs between them. Texas and Oklahoma are bitter rivals, thus the two coaches will always be compared and contrasted.

Both programs are respected nationally for their football tradition, and both have had their fair share of championship success. The Sooners and Longhorns are big college football names, and that, plus the winning, has helped both coaches on the recruiting trail.

Despite somewhat of a decline on the field, Brown still keeps Texas football more than relevant with recruits, and the Longhorns are always pulling in highly ranked classes. As of this writing, Texas has the No. 3 class nationally, according to the 247Sports Composite team rankings.

The same could be said for Stoops and the Sooners, who are usually a lock for a top-20 class. Last cycle, Oklahoma finished ranked No. 16, according to the 247Sports Composite team rankings.

For as synonymous as the two coaches are by name, they have two different and unique styles of recruiting.

Which one is most effective?

For Brown, it's all about the state of Texas, and recently, all about loyalty. He wants recruits who grew up loving the Longhorns, wanting to be a part of the tradition and don't even want to think about going anywhere else.

Here's what he had to say about out-of-state and in-state recruiting during a signing day press conference once, via

I haven't soured on out-of-state at all, we have just been really successful on in-state and we have had more success out of state with guys who have ties. Texas is a different place, the tradition here, the history here, if you didn't grow up with our history and tradition and you don't know how special this place is, then you're one-of-five (choices for a player). I don't want us to be one-of-five. I want us to one-of-one or one-of-two. Maybe that's wrong, but I want guys that love it here, I want guys that are crying when they walk out of that tunnel. On senior day, I want all the moms and dad there. That's just the way I am and the way I feel. When they say we are one-of-five, then I say you’re (down to) one-of-four because I'm out.

Last cycle 13 of 15 recruits committed to the Longhorns came from Texas. In 2012, 24-of-28 commits were in-state players.

That really should tell you all you need to know about Brown's recruiting philosophy. He banks on the state of Texas producing top notch 5- and 4-star recruits, and he plans on those recruits having a lifelong affinity to the Longhorns.

Stoops and Oklahoma play the recruiting game a bit differently.

Oklahoma football is a brand name and Stoops and his staff recruit wherever there is an interest. For instance, last cycle, Oklahoma brought in players from Arizona, Florida, Texas, California and of course Oklahoma. In fact, the best recruiting state for the Sooners in 2013 was actually Texas (13 recruits), which must just infuriate Brown. While Brown is getting players to try to stay in the state of Texas, Stoops is trying to get them to leave.

Stoops also puts a high value on being able to personally evaluate players, rather than sending recruits early offers because other big programs are doing so. That's what makes Oklahoma stand out in today's culture of recruiting.

Oklahoma is patient and doesn't rush to offer, with coaches trusting their evaluation skills and ability to connect with recruits one-on-one. Stoops explains the philosophy himself, per this report from Bob Przybylo of ESPN:

And OU coach Bob Stoops, speaking to reporters at the conclusion of the season, said he has no problem with the way he and his crew are piecing together their future squad. (Under NCAA guidelines, coaches cannot talk specifically about recruits who haven't signed National Letters of Intent.)

"I don't know, maybe in some cases it has [hurt to not have offered early]," Stoops said. "It's hard to say which specific instance it may have. I still don't believe in just going out without any evaluation, and just because a few other people have offered, we need to get in the game."

He goes on to talk about the evaluation process (Przybylo):

"It's just really hard, as you know, to really get the great evaluation of them," Stoops said. "I think as much as anything, we're like everyone now. We spend a lot of time in schools trying to evaluate and gather information.

"What's he really like? It's just tough to have the time to make a great evaluation. We do like them to come in the summer to camps as much as possible."

This is a stark contrast to many of the other major programs in the nation. Some have made offers to recruits that aren't even upperclassmen in high school yet. 

Some would say offering early allows a coaching staff time to develop a rapport with a recruit, and the early offer could create an affinity. Stoops apparently believes in evaluating players in person and not rushing the process.

Back to the Brown vs. Stoops comparison, at this point it would be hard to declare a winner, if only because of the major difference in philosophies and approach.

The caveat here is Brown's newly installed "no visit" policy, as reported by David Ubben of ESPN, which forbids recruits to take visits after they've made a commitment to Texas. If they do visit other schools, Texas would have the right to pull their offer.

It goes right along with his "loyalty to the Longhorns" mantra, but in this day and age of recruiting, it's probably too stern of a rule. 

The elite recruits will garner attention from other schools, and usually a commitment just means that other programs and coaches are going to try even harder to recruit a player. By forbidding a player to visit, Brown risks creating tension with and ultimately losing said player.

Losing recruits has been an issue. Last cycle, five decommitments (Ubben) prompted the no-visit policy. This cycle, the Longhorns have already lost two big recruits in 4-star guard Demetrius Knox and top fullback (247Sports Composite) Daniel Gresham

It's the no-visit policy that really sets Brown and Stoops apart, and not in a good way for the Texas coach. The true value of the policy is questionable, and with two big deccomitments already this cycle with the policy in place, the argument could be made that it doesn't even work. 

Relying on in-state recruiting so much may also hurt the Longhorns, especially with the rise of Texas A&M in-state. Kevin Sumlin's program is riding a wave of hype from its move to the SEC and Johnny Manziel's freshman Heisman campaign, and the Aggies have become "the team" in the state of Texas.

Short term, that's an issue because in-state recruits will want to go to Texas A&M instead of Texas. Long term? Future recruits are watching Texas A&M draw headlines in the college football world rather than Texas. How will Brown's philosophy thrive when recruits are growing up with an affinity for the Aggies, instead of Texas?

If you go to the well too many times, it will eventually run dry—especially if somebody else starts taking more water than usual.

That's the flaw in Brown's recruiting philosophy, and that's the reason Stoops' way of going about recruiting is more effective.


Whose recruiting philosophy do you agree with the most? Brown or Stoops? Let us know in the comments.

Note: All star rankings and recruiting class information courtesy of 247Sports and the 247Sports Composite rankings, unless otherwise noted.

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